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Colden justice resigns after allegations she used her position to help defendant in another court

Victoria B. Zach has resigned as Colden town judge amid allegations that she used the prestige of her position to advocate for a drunken driving defendant in another court.

“A judge must act at all times in a manner that upholds the integrity of the judiciary,” said Robert H. Tembeckjian, administrator of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which announced Zach’s resignation effective at midnight Thursday.

Zach “invoked her judicial office” to help the defendant and made it appear she was his attorney when she is not even a lawyer, Tembeckjian said.

The commission briefed Zach on the allegations in May.

Then just weeks ago, Zach and her lawyer, Paul J. Cambria Jr., signed a statement stipulating that she will resign and never again seek a judicial office.

Zach has served as a town justice since January 2009, and her current term would have ended in December 2016. The job paid her about $11,000 a year, according to payroll records.

Colden has a second justice, Michael Schneider.

Meanwhile, arrangements were made for Justice Jeffrey Markello of East Aurora help out in Colden until the Town Board decides to appoint someone to complete Zach’s term, said Colden Supervisor James DePasquale.

DePasquale said he knew nothing of the matter until early December, when the Commission on Judicial Conduct telephoned Town Hall to ask if Zach had resigned yet – as she was required to do to avoid formal charges.

“It came as a shock,’’ DePasquale said.

Zach’s brief resignation letter to Town Clerk Christina M. Kerlin was dated Dec. 7. The judge wrote that she was resigning at midnight on Dec. 31 and ended by saying:

“It has been my pleasure and a distinct honor to serve the people and the Town of Colden.”